Advertising's back, CBS earnings reports to show

Advertising revenues, once the backbone of broadcasters before they learned they could charge for retransmission of their signals, continue to come back. The latest evidence will probably be presented this afternoon when CBS reveals its fourth quarter earnings.

CBS, which has been relatively quiet in retransmission deals for its 28 network-owned stations, benefited from political advertising in the fourth quarter but also, unlike Comcast's newly acquired NBC network, benefits from being TV's most-watched network.

There is, of course, a threat to cable. CBS College Sports Network has been rebranded as CBS Sports Network, leading some to believe that the broadcaster will be issuing a new challenge to ESPN and Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) array of NBCUniversal and MSO-owned sports networks like The Golf Channel and Versus. It could also potentially place yet another kink in future retransmission talks.

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